Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Boots’ Mate

Day: 53 11.17.2007
Fairlie to Twizel
Distance: 101
Time: 6:12
Avg Speed: 16.4 Kph
Terrain: Hilly to Flat
Location: 44 15 13.6 S, 170 05 58.1 E

We rolled out of Fairlie around 9:00 this morning. The sky was clear for the first time in about 5 days. The southerly wind had ended and left a nice fresh sky for us to ride under. The ride today was a two parter. The first section was 44 kilometers over Burke Pass and into the Lake Tekapo area. When we rolled into the town of Burke Pass (which is right before the actual pass) we were flagged down by a little nice lady who wanted to make sure we visited the town Catholic Church and the cemetery. The church was a small old wooden church full of Scottish tartans. Did I mention that we are in Mackenzie Country? The cemetery was up the road and is the final resting place for a lot of settlers, locals and climbers who died. We were told that the famous Kiwi climber Gary Ball had a grave marker there. Ball died while climbing in Nepal, but his friends and family erected a grave marker for him in Burke Pass. While we were looking for his grave site, an older southern man drove up in his vehicle. We heard him laughing as he approached us since he was ‘surprised to see two cyclists in a cemetery’. He was there to visit his mate Boots, who had passed away recently in a logging accident. He told us about his friend and went over all the things left on his gravesite. He was particularly proud to point out the Speight’s ale setting next to Boots’ old boots. We talked a little bit about the weather, NZ and Australia. On his departure he remarked that visiting cemeteries tended to put a person in their place and ‘strip away the BS’. Today that was too true.
We finally got over Burke Pass, the pass, and the whole skyline erupted with some of the most beautiful mountains I think I have ever seen. The Southern Alps came into full view and Leslie and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. They remained in our sights for the rest of the ride. We descended into Lake Tekapo and took a coffee and sandwich break, since we had another 55k left to Twizel. We rode along the canal from Lake Tekapo to some lower lakes for more than 30k. The road was empty, so we had plenty of opportunity to swerve about staring at the magnificent mountains.
The sight of mountains seems to have an inspiring and calming effect for both Leslie and I. We feel a lot closer to our goal and the land riding among them. We are taking a day off tomorrow and on Monday we are off to Mt. Cook village to spend some time among the mountain. Life is good.
Happy Birthday Mom!!!

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